Thankful Thursday 15: Movement

Welcome to the fifteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Movement!

It’s been about a month! For my husband and I, it’s been a month FULL of travel, so I took almost all that time off from blogging. We hit up Seattle for four Blue Jays games, and went to our hometown in New Brunswick to visit friends and family.

Now that I’m back, this week I’m focusing on gratitude for movement.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the week of August 17 – August 23, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • On Friday, our last full day in NB, Andrew and I hosted a BBQ at his parents’ house with a ton of our friends and their kids. Great food, company, and baby cuddles, what more could a girl want?!
  • Our trip back to Vancouver on Saturday went off pretty much without a hitch. Even though it was smoky when we got home, it wasn’t too hot in the apartment, and we slept well and adjusted to the four-hour time change quickly,
  • We grabbed brunch at our favourite weekend haunt Sunday morning – I’m sure that helped us adapt, too!
  • On Monday, I did a whole bunch of major adulting things make me anxious – getting things sorted for the upcoming start of my M.Ed. program, and making phone calls for things like car maintenance, car insurance renewal, and getting my new glasses.
  • I spent a lot of time reading and relaxing.

  • I took the time to enjoy the chalk art that has taken over my home corner of Robson Street recently.

  • And although I really hate the smoke because it’s keeping me cooped up inside, it does make for some eerily cool photos.

    On the way to Starbucks, very close to my home. It felt like walking around in a dystopia that day!
The view from my counsellor’s office. Normally you can see a huge stretch of North Shore mountains. Not so on this day!
An angry, red, smoky sunrise.
Out our apartment window, that crazy, yellow, hazy post-apocalyptic light.

And the theme for this week, Movement!

This week I’ve felt gratitude for the exercise routine I’ve gotten myself into over the last month. I believe I mentioned in my last Thankful Thursday post that I started a new workout program. I’m doing Kayla Itsines’ BBG program using the Sweat app. And it’s doing me a world of good. I knew I wanted to do a body weight exercise-based program to go along with a reduced running schedule as cross-training during the half-marathon off-season (which for me is July through December). I’d seen a few others trying and loving this program, and it was easily accessible for me and reasonably priced ($20 a month, and I can do it at home!).

It has been really smoky here in BC since we got back from vacation. I am so thankful that I’m in the rhythm of doing these workouts, because I’m still getting my body moving even though I can’t run outside now. I’ve always needed to exercise regularly for my mental health. Even though I’ve done the BBG workouts, I’m still feeling antsy because I haven’t been able to go for a run. But I am thankful for the movement I have been able to do! And to get some cardio in this morning I pulled the stationary bike out of the closet to do a little HIIT.

A little more about BBG

I love everything about this program except its name. BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide. Ugh, even typing it out makes me cringe. All bodies are bikini bodies, not just bodies that are as RIDICULOUSLY sculpted as the trainers in the program videos. I have to admit, it would be nice to see someone a bit more average-sized demonstrating the exercises in the app occasionally. I’m not trying to be down on myself, but with the lifestyle that I want I am realistically never going to look like Kayla, and sometimes it makes me feel bad. I’m human.

Anyway, the program is composed of three resistance sessions a week that take 35-40 minutes each. Then, you can do whatever kind of cardio movement you want three times a week. For me, this is running, obviously (or stationary biking this week, due to the smoke). It can be hiking, swimming, walking, biking, whatever. The last part is recovery. One day a week is completely off, and one day you incorporate a stretch and foam roller session. I think this is a really great balance that helps me keep my running legs. And I also get to build muscle and strength to help me do even better next half-marathon season. Plus, it’s structure that works really well for my mental health. It’s gotten me into a really great routine, so it’s easy to motivate myself to do it. And it’s almost daily, so my anxiety levels are partly managed by all that movement.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 14: Home(body)

Welcome to the fourteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Home(body)!

This week I’m focusing on gratitude for home and everything it entails: my home city, being home from my vacation, my home (apartment), and as I refer to in my title, my act of being a homebody.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the weeks of July 20 – July 26, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • I had a busy first day back, and it really helped me get over the fatigue of the long drive from Calgary and get back into the swing of things.
  • This past weekend, I participated in the 24in48 Readathon, which I really enjoyed. I ended up reading for 17.5 hours in 48 hours between Friday and Sunday. You can read about my experience on my book blog.

    Starting off the readathon in style on Saturday morning. And I’m still obsessed with my sloth mug.
  • The weekend was also filled with rugby! Friday to Sunday was the Rugby World Cup 7s, so that was on pretty much all day each day.

    My life looked like this for most of the weekend.
  • Andrew and I played golf again at the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt!

    It was a beautiful morning!
  • I had a couple of appointments this week and those often cause me a lot of anxiety but they went well. And now I can breathe a sigh of relief that they’re over!
  • On Monday, I biked the seawall to one of the quieter beaches to sunbathe and read.
It was a beautiful day!
  • My best friend and I went to high tea at Honey & Salt (one of the restaurants at the new Parq casino in Yaletown) and it was delicious. We also walked home and I finally got to see the beautiful umbrella installation near Yaletown-Roundhouse station.
    Not pictured: The two crêpes that were also included.

  • On Wednesday morning, I went for a run and got treated to a beautifully calm sunrise.
  • Wednesday was also my husband and I’s third wedding anniversary, which is always a really happy day.

    Image by Sean McGrath.
  • Andrew is an excellent gift giver, and he usually tries to go super literal with the traditional anniversary gift each year. This year, he told me it was difficult to find “tanned leather hides” (you can Google it), so he went whole hog with a bunch of leather items, themed around our upcoming travel and of course, colour coordinated to our wedding. New, much-needed purse, purple leather manicure kit, portable jewelry case (with a hidden compartment for necklaces), leather pencil-case, teal leather clutch (also much-needed), luggage tags, and bracelets for future Canada days together.
He’s a keeper.
  • Finally, today I started doing a new workout program as part of my half-marathon off-season cross training. It was hard, but I know it was a great workout, so I’m going to keep at it!

And the theme for this week, Home(body)!

This week I’ve felt a really big sense of gratitude for everything that is home to me.


First, I pretty much invariably feel thankful for Vancouver any time I go away. I love to travel, but dang I love my city. Every time I get home to this place, even when I’m sitting in the same place in traffic for twenty minutes because of a road closure (what happened this time), I fall in love all over again.

Home is also a person for me, my husband. Even just being away for a week reminds me of all the reasons why I love him so much. As they say, absence makes the heart grow stronger.

Returning home after being away also makes me remember how much gratitude I have for our little apartment. It’s not new, or modern, and it’s definitely not spacious, but it’s ours. Our personalities are everywhere in this little space, and I’ve spent 8 years curating it into a place that makes me so happy. My book nook. The couch by our window with the view I love so much. My desk. The library. My plant babies. There is so much for me to love about this place, and I need to remind myself of this the next time I scream about needing a dishwasher or not wanting to go down to the basement with the laundry.


Finally, I’m really thankful to be able to be a homebody at this point in my life. I’ve spent most of this week in my apartment. Yes, I’ve exercised outside. I’ve gone to the beach. Hung out with a friend (twice). Had four appointments. Gone out for food with my husband (also twice). I’ve visited friends and their adorable kids. I’ve played golf. But really, I’ve spent at least 90% of my time at my desk, cleaning my apartment, in my bed, on my chair in my reading nook, or on the couch. I’m really trying to take the time to journal, write, read, and think. To spend time just being with myself, and learning and growing. I’m getting cozy. I’m relaxing. It’s definitely been much-needed. And I’m thankful for it.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 6: Organization

Welcome to the sixth instalment of my Thankful Thursday! This week’s theme is organization, but ironically, this is the week that it went off the rails a little (considering today is actually Friday). I knew it would happen eventually. It also makes a lot of sense to me that the first time it would happen during a holiday week.

This week I’m focusing on gratitude for the organization I’m making happen in my life.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the Week of May 18-May 24, 2018!

Things I am thankful for this week:

  • All of the amazing food I’ve eaten this week
    • Drinks and appies at Uva with my best friend, and then pizza and a s’mores calzone at Firecrust!
      Drinks at Uva.
      The arancini we ate at Uva.
      My build-your-own pizza.

      The s’mores calzone!
    • Brunch (and dessert) (and coffee coffee coffee) at Craft Beer Market in False Creek (this is my husband and I’s favourite weekend spot).
      The beautiful view near our favourite brunch place in False Creek.

      It’s called “dessert in a jar.” It’s awesome. Banana, chocolate sauce, toffee, ice cream, brownie, and whipped cream. Two spoons, of course.
    • Free popcorn and pop (and nachos we paid for) at the advanced showing of Solo: A Star Wars Story that we got to see through Andrew’s work. I’m also grateful for getting to go see the movie early!
    • Coffee at Matchstick with another best friend!
    • A delicious Starbucks breakfast with Andrew on the holiday Monday
  •  I had a guest speaker in for most of the week in my Planning 10 classes, which meant that I got a bit of a break at work. Of course I was still in all of my classes, but I didn’t have to plan the lessons, which was really nice for a change.
  • As I mentioned above, we had a long weekend for Victoria Day, and I’m really thankful for that! Andrew now gets his holiday Mondays off, which is really nice because we get to spend time together.
  • In addition to the holiday Monday, Friday was a Professional Development Day (in BC we call them Pro-D), which meant that I got to go to work and get a lot of things done and organized. Speaking of which…

The title of this post, Organization!

  • There are two main reasons that I chose organization for this week’s gratitude theme. One is that because I had a guest speaker in many of my classes and a Pro-D on Friday, I had a lot of opportunities to get organized at work. The other is that I got a burst of inspiration over the long weekend for how to further organize our home.
  • I’m always grateful for the opportunity to do some organization for work. Teaching 7 different classes with only 1h20 to prep once every two days leads to a lot of organizational backlog sometimes. It’s hard to stay on top of things. The Pro-D day really helped. Most of the time we have organized activities on these days, but this time we just got time to work on new curriculum implementation, and I got a lot of things done. It felt great!
  • Also, now and then I start to go stir crazy in our apartment. So I’m really thankful for the spark of inspiration and motivation I got over the weekend to change things up a bit. We have a kind of useless space between where our kitchen and entryway are, and our living room. We’ve had a small dining table there for the last while, but we never eat at it – we tended to use it for food storage instead. It was really a wasted space. So I decided that it would be a great idea to do away with the table and  get a big shelving unit for that wall area instead. We decided on Sunday, and off we went to IKEA on the holiday Monday. I had the shelf together by Monday evening, and I’ve spent the rest of the week moving things around and organizing. It’s been great! Here’s the process:
    BEFORE: The awkward space in our apartment. At this point, I had already taken apart the dining table, but for reference, that square piece of glass was the top of it, and the table was in the left-hand corner.
    The shelf, put together!

    The shelf, mid organizing! This is about where we’re at right now. More to come later!

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Self-Care: The Flower Metaphor

A month ago, I wrote a reflection paper for my adult development course.  I recently re-potted my plants. Finally, I had an epiphany about self-care while I was out for a walk. All of this is connected; trust me, it will make sense in a minute.

The History of the Colour of my Thumb

First, it is important to know that until recently, I’ve had a pretty black thumb. I come by it honestly. My mom has an art piece in her garden that says “I tried, but it died” on it. It was gifted to her by a close friend who knows her well. I had a small bamboo plant during my undergrad years that literally only needed to have water in its jar that died. With water in the jar.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I used our generous wedding gifts to re-vamp our apartment. I decided to risk it and get a new plant. Two years later, it’s three times its size. I had to re-pot it last summer into a larger pot. So this year, I bought four new plants – aloe, a succulent, a bonsai, and a bigger bamboo. All was going well, until a couple of weeks ago.

My aloe plant’s soil had started growing algae. I think it might have been because of the way I had it potted (glass vase, cute rocks at the bottom, and then soil). I thought that if I left off watering it for a while it might dry out the algae (Sciencey people – if this makes me sounds like an idiot, suspend judgement. Science is not my forté. Also, refer to above about my black thumb). Alas, it didn’t work. And my aloe started to go brown at the edges. I couldn’t be sure if this was a side-effect of the algae-y soil, or the lack of water, or some combination of the two. Either way, the roots were also starting to reach into the rock part of the vase, so I knew I would need to re-pot it. My black thumb and I at least know that much.

Operation Re-Pot

So, off I went to Home Depot to get more potting soil. Home I returned to begin operation re-pot in the bathtub (another problem with apartment living – nowhere good to garden!). Once I had carefully extracted the aloe from the dreaded algae death vase, I aggressively cleaned and dried the vase, took out, cleaned, and put away the rocks, and put soil only in the vase and then re-potted the aloe. I put a bit of new topsoil in all my plant pots, and watered everything as usual. The next day, my aloe had almost entirely magically transformed from brown to green, and all my other plants were thriving happily. It was then that I had the epiphany. To put it all together, let’s go back to the paper.

Life Metaphor: The Car

For the first section, I was tasked with coming up with a metaphor for my life, based on an exercise in Norman Amundson’s The Physics of Living. At the time, I was dealing with the beginnings of a new (probably stress-related) chronic illness, was working full-time, and was concurrently enrolled in 11 university credits in 6 weeks. The metaphor I came up with was ‘a car that is running out of gas speeding down a deserted road with no signs of civilization.’

My life then amounted to waking up in the morning, heading to work, coming home, doing readings and homework, going to sleep, and repeating. Weekends were all homework and no play. I did manage to get some readings done at the beach, sand in my binders and all. However, self-care was at a minimum. I was burning the candle at both ends, running out of gas with no way and no place to fill up. Unsurprising that this blog was left neglected.

Life Metaphor: Self-Care

The next task of the reflection paper (and Amundson’s above-mentioned text) was to rework that metaphor into something more positive. It was then that the flower metaphor sprouted (sorry not sorry). Here I transformed my sputtering car into a flower, sitting in a sunless room, with drooping petals and dry soil. What’s the difference?

A car is perpetually using gas. When my tank has less than 60km left in it, the warning light comes on, and I fill it up. But that’s easy and reliable; humans aren’t like that. There isn’t a day when a warning light will come on in my brain to tell me that I need to fill up. And ‘filling up’ is not as easy as stopping at a gas station. Rather than filling up with gas every now and again, flowers, like people, need much more nuanced care. They can’t get too much sun, or too little; too much water, or too little. They need careful, constant observation and care that is catered to their needs. They need a thoughtful, intelligent, and caring helper.

Like tending to flowers, self-care is a constant process for humans, and it involves lots of different, smaller processes, like enough sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, spirituality, connections with others, and activities to relax you and bring you joy.

Through this exercise, I learned that I need to take the time each day to tune into what it is that I need to nourish myself (plenty of soil and regular watering). I need to place myself in the best possible environment for my happiness and health (in a room with sunlight away from toxins). Nourishment – with good food, regular sleep, joyful and relaxing activities, connections with others, spirituality, and exercise – is essential. I can also place myself in environments that make me feel more nourished and supported.

I can take myself out of the library and the office, and head out for a hike in the forest or watch the sunset on the beach. Placing myself in a lower-intensity environment with less obligations will be helpful. I need to practice self-care not only by adding free-time to my schedule, but by removing obligations. If I am going to continue to my Masters and stay working full-time, three and four classes at once is too much. I cannot stop exercising because I feel like I don’t have the time. It is important to focus on feeding myself quality nutrients and not what is easy and fast. I need to take the time to relax and enjoy life, and not let it go speeding by me as I focus on the next achievement I want to conquer and unwittingly run out of gas.

The Epiphany

Although that was an epiphany in itself (which I’m sure my husband and parents are cheering about, because they’ve been trying to shove it into my brain for years), I had another one, right after re-potting my aloe.

Seemingly at the same time, I have learned to be an effective apartment gardener, shedding my black thumb for one of the slightly greener variety, and I’ve learned to take care of myself. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? What flipped a switch in my mind that helped me realize I wasn’t practicing self-care? What prompted the more intuitive response to my plants in addition to my body? The introspective work I was doing during my illness and through my courses?  Learning to care for my plants? I’m not sure I’ll come to a positive conclusion on that question; I think it might be a bit of both. But at the moment I don’t care; I’m just enjoying spending the last two weeks of my summer using all of my energy to care for myself.


An Ode to Vancouver’s West End

The sun filters through the leaves of trees unstunted by lack of space or sky, creating shifting patterns on the sidewalk as I march toward the beach. Birds chirp happily. I cross the rainbow beneath my feet, feeling a skip in my step. I can’t believe I live here.

The West End is the only neighbourhood I’ve lived in Vancouver (unless UBC counts as a neighbourhood – to be honest, it’s so huge it probably does), and I don’t plan on living anywhere else. Nestled in the heart of Vancouver, between downtown and Stanley Park, bordered by ocean, forest, and the business district, the West End is a calm oasis in the midst of all the hustle and bustle I love about this incredible, vibrant city.

My husband and I affectionately call our street, and neighbourhood, a bubble. We live one block south of the northern border of the West End, which is Robson Street. Known as Vancouver’s Runway, Robson Street is essentially an outdoor designer shopping mall, peppered with coffee shops, restaurants, and touristy stores. It is busy, noisy, and full of incredible sights and smells. However, as soon as you make the one-block trek South to our street, it’s like you’ve walked through the film of a bubble – the noises, smells, and sights of downtown are all blocked by an invisible wall. Mammoth trees, beautiful flowerbeds, and sunlit sidewalks greet you. Friendly people walk their dogs, and sit and chat in quiet parks.

I often complain about the very few negatives of the West End:

  • parking (non-existent; there has actually recently been a huge survey project run by the city to engage residents in a conversation about how to improve the notably terrible parking situation in the future)
  • how hard it is to get into (the two major perpendicular routes that border the West End, Burrard and West Georgia, have left turn restrictions; Davie has right turn restrictions; and many West End streets are one-way leading OUT)However, I have to admit that these things also make the West End what it is – quiet, traffic-calmed, and homey.

The West End also definitely contributes to the density problem in Vancouver, as its buildings are capped at a certain height (I believe 9 floors) due to bi-laws. I’m still not sure how I feel about this, but I do know that it contributes to the calmness and quietness of our neighbourhood (more floors = more people), which I love. It has begun to change – there are a few skyscrapers popping up around the Davie area. It will be interesting to see where we go from here.

Regardless of the West End’s faults, whenever I’m feeling a little negative about my neighbourhood, I look at this list I made of all the things we have and things we don’t, and I don’t even have to finish reading it before I’m back in love with the place.

Things the West End has:

  • A name that reminds me of London’s theatre district
  • An extremely diverse group of residents (mostly European, Middle Eastern, Eurasian, and Caucasian)
  • A mall
  • Cute old people
  • Sunlit patches of sidewalkIMG_9788
  • Friendly skunks
  • Pharmacies
  • Gnome homes (This one houses the Nelson Gnome, if you can’t read that)     IMG_9783
  • Roundabouts
  • Annoying streets (some force you to turn right or left, or suddenly change to one-way)
  • Friendly people
  • Pokéstops
  • Pokémon Gyms
  • Actual gyms
  • Neighbourhood houses
  • Hotels
  • An unbelievable array of both local and chain restaurants
  • Places of worship
  • Schools (2 elementary, 1 secondary)
  • BnBs
  • Banks
  • Museums
  • Beaches
  • A lake
  • Walking trails
  • Parks
  • Murals
  • Sculptures
  • Fountains
  • Art
  • Davie Village
  • Rainbow CrosswalksIMG_9776
  • Community Centres
  • Coffee Shops
  • Tennis Courts
  • Heritage buildingsIMG_9769
  • Bus Service
  • Bike lanes
  • Grocers
  • Thrift shops
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Community gardens
  • Seniors’ homes
  • Dogs
  • FlowersIMG_9777
  • TreesIMG_9768
  • Fireworks

Things the West End doesn’t have:

  • Parking
  • Tall buildings
  • Noise
  • An amusement park
  • A high crime rate (except for theft)

(Feel free to help me add to the list of things we don’t have, but I doubt you’ll change my mind about how awesome the West End is.)

Every day I have at least one of those meta-experiences where you realize how much you are enjoying something as you are experiencing it. Mine are almost all about the West End. I could be appreciating the view out my apartment window listening to the birds singing to each other, or walking to the beach under a canopy of the most beautiful trees’ leaves, or traversing the film of the bubble I so love and literally hearing the vacuum seal off the noise. Every day I marvel at the fact that this is my home. I can’t believe I live here.


The view from our apartment is city lights, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But the sounds in the morning are of birds chirping, not cars whistling by. Police “woop woop” their sirens, instead of letting them wail,to keep the noise level down, and I feel safe walking alone at night. It’s a one of a kind place, and I’m thankful to have it.